Chicken Scarpariello is one of those classic Italian-American dishes that is totally delicious, easy to make and offers the convenience of being a one-pot preparation.
The dish is prepared like a fricassee, and the flavor profile is based on vinegar, wine, chicken stock, onions, garlic, green pepper and pickled and roasted sweet peppers.
While the recipe given here calls for a small fryer (about 3 pounds) it also works very well to use a duo of Cornish game hens. The smaller pieces are easier to handle and the dish cooks up rather quickly. You can also double the recipe using the fryer, to serve more people.
You’ll come across this recipe in many Italian cookbooks featuring home-style cooking. If a cookbook has a cacciatore recipe it will most likely have one for scarpariello. What gives it such a distinctive flavor is the use of pickled peppers, like peppadew peppers—those little round red peppers that are steeped in vinegar and sold in jars. You’ll see them in the supermarket or Whole Foods. They come both mild and hot, so that’s up to you which to choose. The other pepper in the recipe is roasted red peppers but get the kind that has been cured in vinegar. This is not easily found but I recently discovered it at Whole Foods. The brand I used was Greek Gourmet, Roasted Red Peppers. Check the ingredients list to be sure it contains vinegar.
I like to add boiled potatoes to the pot during the last 5 minutes of cooking; this enriches and thickens the sauce. For leftovers reheat this with pasta added to the dish; orecchiette works well in this. Serve it with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the sauce, and a Pinot Noir from Oregon, light and fruity, would drink well with this.
The recipe is adapted from Rao’s Cookbook by Frank Pellegrino; I’ve made some changes to it for a slightly different flavor profile. I don’t use much garlic in the recipe but add an extra clove or two if you prefer. Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen by Lidia Bastianich has a good version of this in her cookbook as does the one found in New York restaurateurs Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman’s excellent book, Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen.
Servings: 2 to 3
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 mild Italian sweet sausage links, about 1/2 pound, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 pound chicken, cut into eighths or 2 Cornish game hens, cut up
1 green pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 –inch wide strips
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced moderately thinly
1 to 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced roughly
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
About 1/2 cup roasted sweet peppers in large slices cured in vinegar
1/2 cup vinegar juice from the jar
About 1/2 cup sweet, mild peppadew peppers cured in vinegar and sliced in half
1/2 cup vinegar juice from the jar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 boiled potatoes, cut into quarters
In either a large straight sided sauté pan or 7- to 8-inch round Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
Reheat the oil in the pan if necessary until barely smoking and add the chicken pieces skin side down over medium high heat. (Be sure that you’ve patted the chicken pieces dry before browning.) Turn and cook the other side and continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is nearly cooked through.
Push the chicken aside or remove with a slotted spoon to a plate if you don’t have enough room in the pan when adding next the bell pepper, onion and garlic. Sautee until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off the excess oil if any.
Return the sausage to the pan (and the chicken if you’ve removed it). Stir in the roasted and sweet peppadew peppers, their bottled juices, the wine, stock, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a lively simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. You can partially cover the pan for about 5 minutes to make sure the chicken has cooked through. During the last 5 minutes stir in the potatoes and let it simmer vigorously to reduce the sauce until somewhat syrupy. Serve immediately, spooning the sauce over the chicken pieces.